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Omen Essay

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Donnelly is a poet, editor, and teacher. His first book of poems is The Charge. In this essay, Donnelly discusses the conventions and challenges of the elegy.

Many readers of poetry do not understand how hard it is to write a successful lyric poem, never mind how treacherous it is—artistically speaking—to attempt an elegy mourning the death of a friend or loved one. This poetic task is risky because there are so many ways to fail. In particular, an elegy may fail to rise to eloquence while lamenting and praising the dead person, or it may cross the line between sentiment and sentimentality. The several-thousand-year history of the elegy is illuminated by the brilliant achievements of poets who rose to this challenge—Milton, Tennyson, Whitman, Yeats, Auden, and Allen Ginsberg, to name a few—and also littered by the efforts of those who tried and fell...

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This section contains 1,848 words
(approx. 5 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Omen Study Guide
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Poetry for Students
Omen from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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